True Grit Epic: The Race Report Prologue

03.19.2015 | 11:21 am

A Full Disclosure Note from Fatty: GRO Races provided complimentary entry to The Hammer and me.

I was worried.

That is not unusual; I’m always worried before races begin. But this time, I was worried for a different reason than usual: I was worried because i was afraid of the True Grit Epic course; pre-riding this intensely technical, rocky, 50-ish-mile course a few weeks ago had only underscored this fear.

I was worried that The Hammer would beat me. And while I’m perfectly happy for her to be really fast and beat everyone else in the whole world, I want to be just a little bit faster than she is, due to my fragile male ego. There, I said it. 

I was worried I would get lost. I had heard the course was tricky, and I don’t really know the trails in the area. If it wasn’t well marked, I could easily wind up riding into the ocean (eventually).

And so The Hammer and I showed up early. Partially to make sure we picked up our packets, but mostly because we woke early and had nothing better to do. 

We parked — getting an awesome spot in the parking lot, due to our earliness — picked up our packets, put our numbers on our bikes (I’d be riding the Cannondale Scalpel Team I’ve fallen in love with over the past couple months), and…still had about an hour and a half ’til our race began.

But First, Let Me Take a Selfie

But while the “short” race — only fifty-ish miles of technical mountain biking in mid-March — was 90 minutes away, the 100-mile (two laps of the same course) race was getting ready to begin, and folks were lining up.

Including lots of people I kinda know, or have maybe met, or don’t know but follow on Twitter, or have heard of, or something.

A perfect opportunity for me to get pictures of them. With me.

First, I got a photo of Sonya Looney, the person who would eventually win the pro women’s race with an 8:12:

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Look how happy she is to be seen with me!

Then, Jeff Kerkove, possibly the nicest pro in the entire world:

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Look how happy he is to be seen with me!

And then I saw Kate from St. Louis. I had never met Kate before, but had been told to be on the lookout for her. We had talked for a moment before the race, but I hadn’t realized that she’d be riding the 100-mile race. On a singlespeed. 

For what it’s worth, I had considered doing the 100-mile version of this race…and had then come to my senses and rejected it as too hard.

But Kate from St. Louis — who had just finished getting her PhD and had therefore not had a lot of time for studying — was lining up for the full 100 miles. 

Right at the very second her race began, I got a photo of us:

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Look how happy she is to be seen with me! (Kate’s race story is great, by the way. Read it here.)

Plenty of Time

With the 100-milers gone, I still had a ton of time to kill — a full hour — before the race began. Some of my best friends trickled in:

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From the right, that’s Cori, Kenny, Brad, and…me. They sure seem happy to be seen with me!

I could tell that this was an important race because even Big Bikes Thom of DirtWire.TV was there reporting it. 

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Look how happy he is to be seen with me!



Separated at birth?

OK, let’s move on.

Things were not as cheerful in the outhouse line, which was moving verrrrry slowly. 

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I was sure glad I had plenty of time!

Until There Is No Time at All

Finally, it was time to get lined up for the start. The Hammer and I wandered back to our truck, put on our helmets, Camelbaks and gloves, locked the truck, and were about to ride to the starting line.

When someone came up to us and said, “You’re not allowed to park here. You’re going to need to move your truck.”

My head spun around. The race would be starting in ten minutes. Now I needed to move my truck?

“What?” I said. “There are no ‘no parking’ signs anywhere near here.”

“We forgot to put them up,” he replied. 

“There’s no available parking anywhere near here,” I said. “And my race starts in ten minutes! Where am I supposed to put my truck?”

He didn’t answer; he had moved on to evict the next person.

“I’ll take your bike and go to the starting line,” The Hammer told me. “You go find a place to park.”

Absolutely positive I wouldn’t find a place to park before the race began, I jumped into the truck and began driving, hopelessly looking for a place to park. Amazed and freaked out that after two hours of dawdling, I was about to not make the start.

Three blocks away from the starting line, I finally found a spot on the side of the road. I did the fastest (and possibly poorest) parallel parking job in my life, jumped out, and began speed-walking back to the starting line.

The national anthem started playing on the loudspeaker.

I began running. Now I could see the starting line arch again.

The national anthem ended.

I was almost there. 

“One minute warning!” the race director said over the PA.

I was there. But I couldn’t see The Hammer. I walked back through the line, searching, searching.

“Thirty seconds!”

I saw her. Ran to her. Grabbed my bike. Gasping from panic and my sprint to the starting line.

“You’re in the second wave,” The Hammer told me. “You still have two minutes ’til you go.”

Two minutes. Suddenly two minutes seemed like a vast amount of time. 

I gave The Hammer a kiss and moved forward into my corral (she’d be starting in the next wave), my heart still racing.

I was ready for this race to begin.


  1. Comment by Clydesteve | 03.19.2015 | 12:31 pm

    What?!? No poop report?

  2. Comment by yannb | 03.19.2015 | 12:50 pm

    @clydesteve, he has 2 minutes to realize he has to poop. Yet another cliffhanger.

  3. Comment by MattC | 03.19.2015 | 3:12 pm

    Or should this be called a “poophanger”?

  4. Comment by MattC | 03.19.2015 | 3:16 pm

    (which sounds similar but not to be confused with “dingleberries”)

  5. Comment by Edwin | 03.19.2015 | 7:08 pm

    Fantastic! A good old (pre)race report. Really missed those over what seems like a never ending winter here on the east coast. Ready for next installment.

  6. Comment by Corrine | 03.19.2015 | 8:19 pm

    I love race reports. Will we get a second installment tomorrow or do we have to wait until Monday?

  7. Comment by Tom in Albany | 03.20.2015 | 5:26 am

    Ahhh, race reports!! How I’ve missed you!

  8. Comment by LidsB2 | 03.20.2015 | 8:29 am

    I’m surprised, shocked really, that the race organizers hadn’t provided reserved parking for beloved celebrity bloggers like yourself. They really need to step up their game.

  9. Comment by Kukui | 03.20.2015 | 1:23 pm

    Oh my gosh! From leisurely start to panic just before the race! I don’t think I could handle it.

  10. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 03.21.2015 | 12:19 pm

    I guess that’s one way to overcome SLAD – create, or be in the middle of, a crisis to distract you.

    Is that better than standing around shivering, glancing at your watch every 15 seconds, waiting for the porta pottie line to move?

  11. Comment by Libby | 03.21.2015 | 3:36 pm

    Eager to read the fine details of this race. Except for the poop report but you mustn’t disappoint the guys ( yes you Clyesteve, Matt, Dave, yannb…etc.). And how the Scapel responded to this challenge.

  12. Comment by AKChick | 03.22.2015 | 12:11 pm

    I LOVE Sonya Looney!! She is one of my athletic girl crushes. She is such a rockstar mtber and she kicks some serious booty. She is also super nice and interacts with her fans on Twitter. :)

  13. Comment by Sonya | 03.22.2015 | 9:46 pm

    YEAH!!!! I am superbly stoked to be seen with you! Muppet faces all around! Hope to see you soon!

  14. Comment by Sonya | 03.22.2015 | 9:46 pm

    AK Chick- I just saw your super nice comment. :) :) Thank you SO much!!!

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  16. Comment by AKChick | 03.23.2015 | 6:54 pm

    OMG! Sonya Looney just thanked me for my nice comment. I’ve died and gone to Heaven :) :) :) :) That just foes to show what an awesome person she is (as well as fast)!

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